Jon Ossoff has soaked up the lion’s share of Democratic attention in the race for Georgia’s Sixth District. He claims to have raised more than $3 million in campaign cash across the nation, has attracted the interest of national Democratic groups and has fast become the target of Republicans in the race.
Which is to say the other four Democrats in the April 18 special election are none too happy about what one calls the “coronation” of the 30-year-old former Congressional aide.
“This is not going to be a coronation. You have to earn it,” said former state Sen. Ron Slotin. “He stands no chance against a Republican in the runoff. And that’s what I’m letting people know. The party shouldn’t pick favorites.”
He and the other three lesser-known Democrats in the race gathered over the weekend at Andretti’s in Roswell with Ossoff for a forum sponsored by the Needles in a HayStack group to make the case why the party should rally around them.
Ragin Edwards, an east Cobb sales manager, told the crowd to give her a chance and “I promise I will make you proud.”
Rebecca Quigg, a physician, focused her pitch on safeguarding the Affordable Care Act. “We need a doctor in the House who cares about the patients, and who is knowledgeable about the law,” she said.
And Richard Keatley, a college professor from Tucker and U.S. Navy veteran, said he will be the “independent voice” who will not be beholden to special interests. “I’m used to being the odd man in the room,” he said. “I’m the first officer in a long line of sailors, and I know how to rock the boat.”
It was Slotin, though, with the sharpest attacks aimed at Ossoff.
He slammed the Democratic National Committee for pledging to pour resources into the race – ostensibly to help Ossoff - and assailed DailyKos, the left-leaning website, for raising more than $1.1 million for Ossoff’s campaign. He called them Washington insiders “who don’t know anything about the district.”
Slotin also criticized Ossoff for “not having a business in the United States,” a reference to his London-based investigative film company. He was booed by crowdmembers when he asked Ossoff about a delay in filing financial disclosures; the campaign has requested extensions and is set to submit them this week.
A straw poll conducted after the question-and-answer session showed the audience of roughly 400 had picked a clear favorite.
About three-quarters of the votes went to Ossoff and Keatley received about 10 percent. Quigg, Slotin and Edwards split the remaining 16 percent of the vote. After the vote, the group endorsed Ossoff and said it would work to help him win the race, “ideally on the first ballot.”
The five Democrats will appear with 11 Republicans and two independents on the April 18 ballot, and the top two vote-getters – regardless of party – will square off in a June 20 runoff.
Spanning from east Cobb to north DeKalb, the district has been in Republican hands since the 1970s, but Donald Trump’s struggles in the area have given Democrats hope they can flip the seat.